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Debates about Shari’a law and legal pluralism have come to the fore of political discourse in many western multicultural societies including Australia. The mass media, in particular newspapers, have been active in reporting on Shari’a related news items and in doing so, have made a significant contribution to shaping political debate across western nations from governmental to grassroots levels. Understanding how newspapers report on Shari’a will provide important insights into how political discourse about Islam, western Muslims and Shari’a is formed. Utilizing the example of newspapers in Sydney, Australia, this article draws upon methodologies used to analyse the negative portrayals of new religious movements in the press. The article aims to analyse the way that Shari’a has been reported in key newspapers in Sydney over the last five years. It explores a variety of issues influencing the reporting of Shari’a including reporting of Shari’a at the local and international levels, the division between ‘good’ Shari’a (Islamic finance) and ‘bad’ Shari’a (family and criminal law) and differences between newspapers and media owners.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

Document Type

Journal Article

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